Obesity may raise risk of skin cancer: study
London: A gene linked to obesity and overeating may also increase the risk of malignant melanoma - the most deadly skin cancer, a new study has claimed.
Cancer Research UK scientists at the University of Leeds showed that people with particular variations in a stretch of DNA within the FTO gene, called intron 8, could be at greater risk of developing melanoma.
Variations in a different part of the FTO gene, called intron 1, are already known to be the most important genetic risk factor for obesity and overeating.
These variants are linked to Body Mass Index (BMI). Having a high BMI can increase the risk of various diseases including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, womb (endometrial) cancer and more.
But the new research published in Nature Genetics is the first to reveal that the gene affects a disease - melanoma - which isn`t linked to obesity and BMI.
The researchers examined tumour samples in more than 13,000 melanoma patients and almost 60,000 unaffected people from around the world.
The results suggested that FTO has a more wide-ranging role than previously suspected, with different sections of the gene being involved in various diseases.
"This is the first time to our knowledge that this major obesity gene, already linked to multiple illnesses, has been linked to melanoma. This raises the question whether future research will reveal that the gene has a role in even more diseases?" study author, Dr Mark Iles, Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Leeds, said in a statement.
"When scientists have tried to understand how the FTO gene behaves, so far they`ve only examined its role in metabolism and appetite. But it`s now clear we don`t know enough about what this intriguing gene does," Iles said.
"These are fascinating early findings that, if confirmed in further research, could potentially provide new targets for the development of drugs to treat melanoma," Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK`s senior science information manager, said.